Company: Prime Cuts Music Release: 2009 Genre: Heavy Reviewer: Hail and Kill
Impressive, though short of jaw dropping
Let's can the music review one moment and just stare at the cover. Look at it. Wow. That's the Perseus dude from Greek mythology holding the severed head of Medusa. Dark and creepy, albeit a little embellished for aesthetic purposes. It succeeds in perfectly conveying the mood of this second album from Australia's Be'lakor. Judging by their name, they could fit into any genre, which they almost do throughout the eight sweeping tracks inside this humongous sophomore release of theirs.
Beginning with the contemplative instrumental at the start of "Venator," the band are quick to eschew the aggressive stuff for loads of mood. Once their peculiar metallic brew commences, expect every conceivable strand—be it Iron Maiden harmonies and depressive Goth metal tempos—from across the metal spectrum (except blast beats) to be woven into the massive tapestry that forms the soundscape of this album. From power metal keyboards to the energy of Gothenburg death metal plus doom-laden caveman grunts, Be'lakor are this year's heavy metal chimera. Despite their refreshing appeal, however, a few ugly blemishes do tarnish this otherwise impressive oeuvre. Foremost are the vocals, which border on the incoherently useless amidst the din of such progressive whirlpools as "Sun's Delusion" and "Husks." To worsen matters, the sound of this band, while hypnotic, lacks P-O-W-E-R, making the epic guitar duels here fall short of the expected bombast. Moshpit worthy moments are hard to come by on "Stone's Reach," then again, this might not be the band's intention anyway.
But considering how new these guys are, hearing them pull off an album of such breadth and ambition is rather impressive, though short of jaw dropping. Songs like "From Scythe To Sceptre," "Outlive the Hand," the haunting instrumental "Aspect" that's the overture to the 10 minute closer "Countless Skies" push the boundaries of metal like the most innovative bands from Sweden. For those looking for that priceless underground sensation to rave about, "Stone's Reach" is your first choice.
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